Thursday, 24 October 2013

1970s Elmore Leonard Crime Fiction British Hardback First Editions Book Cover Gallery (Secker & Warburg, 1974–1979)

There's a school of thought that reckons the late Elmore Leonard did his best work in the 1970s (a school that Leonard himself was possibly enrolled at: according to this interview the novels he was most fond of were Swag and The Switch, and he felt his best western was Valdez is Coming). I'm not sure I'd necessarily agree with that – Leonard published fine novels in the 1980s (Stick, LaBrava), the 1990s (Get Shorty, Pronto) and beyond – but you could make a case that for sheer variety, the '70s were hard to beat. There were three westerns (Valdez is Coming, 1970; Forty Lashes Less One, 1972; Gunsights, 1979), a near-novelisation (Mr. Majestyk, 1974), a buddy crime caper (Swag, 1976), and in the four novels published in hardback by Secker & Warburg in the UK alone, two kidnapping tales (one, The Switch, more comedic than the other, Fifty-Two Pickup), a novel at least partly about alcoholism (Unknown Man No. 89), and a cross-country manhunt thriller set in Israel (The Hunted).

And since I now own all four of those hard-to-find-at-an-affordable-price Secker & Warburg editions, and two of them boast distinctive, evocative dust jacket cover photos by Graham Miller, whose work also appears on on the jacket of the 1974 Heinemann edition of one of my favourite novels of all time, Patricia Highsmith's Ripley's Game, and a third boasts a similarly evocative cover photo, this time by Bill Richmond, one of whose photos also appears on the jacket of a Heinemann edition of a Patricia Highsmith novel – The Boy Who Followed Ripley, 1980 – and furthermore two of them feature the same Oxford Mail review excerpt on their back covers, penned by abiding Existential Ennui preoccupation Anthony Price...

OK, these reasons are getting a bit tenuous now – and in truth what reason need I, other than I fancied assembling an Existential Ennui '70s Elmore Leonard British hardback first edition cover gallery. And so here one is.

Fifty-Two Pickup, Secker & Warburg, 1974; cover photograph by Graham Miller

Unknown Man No. 89, Secker & Warburg, 1977; dust jacket design uncredited

The Hunted, Secker & Warburg, 1978; photography by Graham Miller

The Switch, Secker & Warburg, 1979; photography by Bill Richmond

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